This hibiscus pulinkari Kerala recipe made in South Indian Kerala style with edible red hibiscus flowers is a very unique and traditional South Indian style sour tamarind based curry recipe passed on from generations.
Pulinkari is kind of sour curry made with a homemade spicy tamarind sauce as base and hibiscus curry is made using fresh hibiscus flowers, tamarind extract and spices which makes it an exotic, sour and quite spicy curry.
This healthy and yummy hibiscus curry is vegetarian as well as vegan and makes a great side dish with rice for South Indian style lunch or dinner.
This hibiscus curry can be also enjoyed as a healthy vegetarian/vegan soup or stew as the consistency of this dish is much similar to a soup or stew.
You can see the image of sour and spicy red hibiscus flower stew or pulinkari below.
You can make this recipe with the edible red hibiscus flowers from your own garden. The pulinkari recipe in Kerala style is kind of a sour stew or soup recipe.
The sourness in the recipe is not from the hibiscus flowers used, but it is from the tamarind extract which is also a must have important ingredient in this recipe. See different options of tamarind available to buy from Amazon below.
If you are using tamarind paste or tamarind pulp, follow the directions in the package when you make the tamarind extract, since some of them will be concentrated.
If the paste or pulp is concentrated, you will only need to use very little to make the extract or it will be little too sour. If you are using fresh tamarind (like the 3rd product you see above) to make the tamarind extract, you can remove the shell and seeds and use the pulp to make the extract.
In South India, tamarind is used in a lot of recipes although you can use fresh tomatoes in place of tamarind in many recipes. Authentic South Indian sambar recipe is one popular dish where tamarind is used.
The healthy and vegetarian (vegan too) Kerala style pulinkari or sour hibiscus pulinkari Kerala recipe which is a very tasty and sour stew with edible red hibiscus flowers is one of my favorite recipes to have for lunch.
Hibiscus is known as chemparathy or chembarathi in malayalam and the traditional dish can be also called as chembarathi pulinkari or chemparathy pulinkarai which means hibiscus flowers in tamarind and spices.
It is an easy and healthy recipe using edible red hibiscus flowers or chemparathy poovu, where poovu means flower. This recipe is vegetarian and it is made in a broth based on tamarind extracts.
The stew is quite spicy, but deciding how sour and spicy you want the dish is completely your choice.
If you want to tweak this recipe to make it less spicy and sour, you can always do so. May be you can make it without any spiciness by reducing or avoiding the chilies.
However sourness is more important to this hibiscus pulinkari recipe and so it is best to use tamarind paste even though you may try tomatoes too.
Apart from being beautiful, red hibiscus flowers have many health benefits and they also have some medicinal uses. The powerful antioxidants and vitamins make it a good choice as an edible flower, which can be easily picked from your own garden.
The good thing is that if you have a red hibiscus plant in your garden and once it starts flowering, chances are that large number of flowers are produced in the plant on a daily basis.
This hibiscus pulinkari was something my grandmother and my mother used to prepare so often, when we needed something quick to have for lunch.
It was often prepared in my parents home since we had plenty of hibiscus flowers in our garden and everyone liked this tasty and healthy side dish with their lunch.
Red hibiscus flowers are either single layered or multi layered, and you can use any of those as you wish.
If you have a red hibiscus plant in your garden, you may be getting lots of flowers all year round and so it will be really easy for you to prepare this recipe with the fresh flowers from your garden.
Spices to help you make this Kerala style hibiscus stew
Spices have many health benefits and they are used in a wide variety of Asian recipes.
You can try adding them in different recipes to make the food more healthy and flavorful.
Just make sure you use the right measurement of spices recommended for the recipe.
Mustard seeds are also used in many Asian recipes and they have many health benefits. Tamarind paste is usually used to add sourness to the recipes.
It is important not to overuse tamarind in recipes. If you need more sourness, try using fresh tomatoes instead of adding more tamarind.
Hibiscus flowers have many health benefits including medicinal uses and hence hibiscus powder is used in herbal teas which is believed to have the ability to reduce stress and give a calming effect.
You just need a little hibiscus powder in your tea to make it bright and colorful. Fresh hibiscus petals can also be used to make the tea.
Hibiscus tea is especially popular in many Asian countries. You can also consider using hibiscus powder in place of red food color to obtain the natural red color in your food.
You can easily grow hibiscus in your garden if you live in tropical or sub tropical regions. If you live in places with extreme cold climates, you may need to move the plants indoor during winters.
So here is how the stew/sour curry is made using this easy hibiscus sour curry recipe or hibiscus pulinkari Kerala recipe using fresh hibiscus flowers, tamarind and few other ingredients.
- 15 red hibiscus flowers fresh
- 1 medium sized onion or a handful of shallots
- 4 green chilies
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste about half the size of a medium sized lemon
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 dry red chilies broken
- 1 string curry leaves
- fresh coriander leaves a few
- ½ teaspoon turmeric Powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander Powder
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek powder
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- salt as needed
- Separate petals from the hibiscus flowers, as we need only the petals to prepare the stew.
- Rinse and clean the petals, keep them aside.
- Dissolve the tamarind paste in water and keep aside so that you get the tamarind extract in few minutes.
- Chop the green chili peppers and also the onion or shallots finely, and keep them aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds.
- Add the broken dry red chilies and curry leaves to the oil, and fry for a few seconds.
- Add chopped shallots or onion along with the chopped green chili peppers and coriander leaves and saute for a few minutes.
- Filter the tamarind extract and add this sour extract to the pan.
- Add salt and stir well so that everything is combined well.
- Add turmeric powder, coriander powder and fenugreek powder to this mixture and mix well.
- Wait till this boils, then reduce the flames and cook for a few minutes by stirring in between so that mixture becomes little thick.
- When the mixture has reached the required consistency, you can add the chopped hibiscus flowers and stir well.
- Once the stew starts boiling, mix well and remove the pan from the stove. You can serve this as a yummy side dish with rice for lunch or dinner or you can also serve this hot as an edible flower soup or flower stew with exotic spices!